Theatre company manager from Northampton uses lockdown to create coffee shop business in Vespa Tuk Tuk

The coffee shop van is now a big part of the village community that has grown in popularity in a short period of time

By Carly Odell
Tuesday, 6th July 2021, 8:30 am

A Northampton man who has worked in the theatre industry for two decades used lockdown to launch a coffee shop business in a Vespa Tuk Tuk van.

Eamonn Byrne, from Moulton, was about to begin an 18-month tour with a production of ‘The Phantom Of The Opera’ last March when the first lockdown hit.

The 53-year-old, who was previously a car mechanic, found he had a lot of time on his hands so decided to start buying and renovating old cars ‘to keep the money ticking over’.

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Eamonn Byrne and his five-year-old daughter Grace who loves to help out at her dad's coffee van.

Last year, Eamonn came across a three-wheel Vespa Tuk Tuk that, despite being around 18-years-old, had never been driven on roads.

He bought it with the intention to make it road-worthy and sell it on, but it soon became apparent that it would be too difficult, so Eamonn decided to renovate the van and sell it as a business opportunity.

However, the mechanic turned theatre boss, had also always dreamed of opening his own coffee shop.

So in August last year, when it was clear the theatre industry would not be getting back to any sort of normality for a long time, Eamonn opened ‘Vespaccino’ in his village’s pocket park.

Eamonn originally renovated the van to sell as a business idea.

Since then, he has gained regulars, expanded to serving more food and secured this business’ place as an important part of Moulton.

Eamonn said: “I’ve always had a hankering to run a coffee shop and it’s always the thing I thought I would try and do if I stopped working in theatre.

“After I’d done the van up to sell as a business, it was clear that the theatre industry was not going back any time soon so I thought to myself that I should try and run it for a while.

“I spoke to Moulton Parish Council and asked if I could set up in the public gardens and they were keen but also a bit bewildered as to why and whether anyone would want to buy coffee.

The coffee shop has proved popular among locals.

“My response was ‘I have no idea until I try’.”

At first Eamonn towed the van to and from the park everyday, until his temporary contract ran out in October, by then he had spoken to the council again and organised a more permanent pitch.

He has continued six-days a week ever since and has teamed up with a number of local businesses to now service ice cream, homemade cakes and hot food and has also employed two people on a part-time basis.

Yellow Bourbon in Angel Street has also supplied Eamonn’s coffee for the last year and even helped to set up his machine and show him how to make the perfect cup when he first began, which he is extremely grateful for.

Eamonn added: “I’m very proud of what I have done, it has been a big shift as about a week before I opened I didn’t even know how to make coffee.

“It has been so lovely to do, I’ve really enjoyed it and I live next to the park so I have the shortest commute in history.

“It started slow until people knew where I was, but then we were really busy throughout the lockdown as there was really nothing to do, but we could operate as we are a takeaway business.

“The response has been incredible too.

“I’ve had people saying they can’t believe how long we have needed this in the village.

“I have regulars now too. The church group comes down every week, so does the theatre group and a walking group.

“And it’s so nice for the elderly population to have somewhere to go.

“My biggest feeling is how lucky and blessed I am to have been in the position to do this.

“Going from being away six days out of seven to being able to see my little girl everyday and pick her up from school is amazing. My quality of life has changed.”

Eamonn is hoping to have a small ‘Vespaccino’ first birthday party on August 1 and is also working on converting an out building in the park into a seating area for his coffee shop.

For the time being, he has no plans to go back to a job in the theatre industry, however if he does in the future, someone will take over and ‘Vespaccino’ will continue to trade.